21 Aug
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Wise Action

The fourth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path is samma kammanta, translated as Wise (or Right) Action. Traditionally, Right Action is taught as not indulging in bodily actions that cause harm to oneself or others, specifically: not killing, not stealing and not engaging in sexual misconduct. These are the first 3 of the 5 Training Precepts. The 4th is to refrain from actions of speech that cause harm, specifically: not lying. (The 5th is to refrain from using intoxicants that cloud the mind….and make it much less likely that you will adhere to the first four!)

Here’s what Phillip Moffitt writes in Dancing with Life:
Wise action is any action that liberates the mind, moves you toward freedom from suffering, and supports a feeling of well-being that is independent of external conditions. It arises out of clear comprehension (sampajanna), meaning you are clear about what is needed, what is appropriate, and what is doable within your limits. In order to take action with such clarity, you approach decisions with mindfulness and with awareness of the dharma.

Wise action doesn’t just apply to big decision, but applies to small ones as well. You see the truth of suffering and impermanence and that your immediate situation is caused by impersonal causes and conditions, and this larger dharma view allows right action to unfold. You cultivate being mindful of all your actions, even those that you don’t ordinarily notice, such as how fast you walk, how you sit at your desk, how you decide what to eat, and how fast you eat it. Wise action is reflected in how you schedule and pace yourself, how you treat others, and how you nourish yourself.”

Wow. I don’t know about you, but that last one really hit home.

Up next: Right Livelihood

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